Dara McAnulty, a 16 year old from Castlewellan, Co. Down, has been awarded the 2020 Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing for his first book, Diary of a Young Naturalist.
Dara, who appeared on the BBC NI series The Chronicles Of Erne, said winning the award was an “astounding moment” for all young writers and nature lovers. He started writing his nature blog at aged 12 and the following year he started writing his book, a diary which chronicles a year of his life from spring 2018 to spring 2019. As well as celebrating his love and observations of nature, the diary is also a personal journal dealing with family life, changing schools, bullying and his experience of being autistic. Dara said that winning the award was “humbling”. In a video posted on Twitter, he said: “It is an astounding moment, not just for me but young people, young writers, young nature lovers. This tells our community that our voices matter, our ideas are worthy, our stories captivating. TV presenter Julia Bradbury, who chaired the judging panel, described Dara’s writing as “remarkably astute and candid”. She told The Guardian, “This book would be good if it was written by anyone of any age. We felt it was a very important book to win because it will reach young people and that is vital.”
It has also just been announced that Dara McAnulty has become the youngest writer ever to be longlisted for the UK’s most prestigious nonfiction award, the Baillie Gifford prize, for his book Diary of a Young Naturalist